The Vision for a SuSol Education Center

By Sustainable Solano

Sustainable Solano has had a vision for a while now: To have an office space that serves as a place of education around the many things we teach about, such as sustainable landscaping, water capture and reuse; cooking with seasonal, sustainable local food; and building community resilience.

We have been lucky to spend the past few years in our office at the Global Center for Success on Mare Island. This office space puts us near nonprofit partner organizations and the beauty of the Vallejo People’s Garden and the Pollinator Pathway garden we installed with them and Solano RCD in front of the building. But as our team has grown in number, we find there are limitations in a one-room office, both for our team members’ needs as well as ways we would like to interact with all of you in the community.

And so we are returning to that original vision.

We would love to find a safe and beautiful place where we can create and exhibit the solutions we’ve been teaching and demonstrating for nearly 25 years. These may include a permaculture garden or farm, sustainable water techniques, solar energy and maybe even chickens. There could be a commercial kitchen space for teaching classes and preparing food (or the potential to add such a space). We also need a shared workspace and a place to gather around a table for large team or partner meetings, and an area to house tools and equipment, promotional materials and office files. The property would need to be zoned to allow for office space and would need to be able to support visitors coming to the site for meetings, classes and demonstrations.

We’ve seen creative and innovative ways individuals, organizations and cities have supported such projects. In Berkeley, the Ecology Center runs EcoHouse, which was founded in 1999 when a group of individuals “collectively purchased and transformed a small, dilapidated North Berkeley home into a demonstration house and garden.” In American Canyon, the city offered up an old public works yard to be transformed into the Napa River Ecology Center in partnership with the American Canyon Community Parks Foundation. Santa Cruz Permaculture now stewards a 26-acre farm under a 30-year lease as part of its operations.

We’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions for supporting this vision! Reach out to us at

Even with this active vision for an education center, Sustainable Solano is committed to continuing hands-on sustainable landscaping and resilience-building workshops, cooking classes, and internships within Solano communities, because these are the very heart of our work. Our goal is to bring neighbors together in ways that help them connect with each other, the Earth, and themselves.

Garden Champion Sylvia Herrera in the Spotlight

By Sierra Reinertson, Volunteer

This is a new feature highlighting the people who support Sustainable Solano’s work with their time, energy and commitment to shaping a better world while strengthening their communities.

Sylvia Herrera first became involved with Sustainable Solano three years ago, when the organization saw a banner she had placed in front of Armijo High School announcing to the public that there would be a community garden on campus. She didn’t realize how many people drove by and saw that sign. Several organizations and individuals reached out to her, saying they were interested in helping her make this happen. The power of a banner!

Sylvia Herrera

Since the very beginning, Sylvia has dedicated herself to the garden and has rallied her students and the whole school to participate in the garden and be closer to nature. As a Solano Gardens garden champion, she is constantly maintaining the garden (named Jardin de la Esperanza) to make sure her students and other Armijo staff have a beautiful place to enjoy. She is also constantly brainstorming ways to use the garden as a place of belonging and has hosted classes outside, Dia de Los Muertos and Martin Luther King Day events during lunch hour, and nutrition classes with her students — showing her commitment to her school community and nature.

Learn more about Sylvia and the work she does with us below!

What do you enjoy the most about the work you do with us?

While I enjoy technology, there is something to be said about being outdoors, hands-on learning, and the community working towards a goal together. There is something very empowering in that. Being in the open air is nice, it’s a nice change from being in a classroom; in fact that is why we have lots of seating in the garden, it can be used as an outdoor classroom.

What’s one experience or event that stands out for you?

An experience that stands out is when we actually installed the garden at Armijo. After all the talking, planning, getting things approved and what-not, the day finally came to start shoveling and making the garden a reality. The entire Armijo community turned out, over 500 students helped in one form or another. All my classes were out there shoveling, moving mulch, planting trees, you name it. Other classes helped out, as well as the football team, soccer team, the cheerleaders. I filmed everything, as did our multimedia department. It really brought the school together. Students I didn’t even know would come up to me and say, “Hey, Ms. Herrera, can I help?” The garden brought out the best in EVERYONE. … Group effort in every sense of the word.

What do you wish more people knew about Sustainable Solano or the program you volunteer with?

I’d like people to know that gardening/growing your own food is beneficial in so many ways. You are helping the environment, you are helping yourself by growing organic food that you can share with your family, and you are making the choice to eat healthier! Also, this program brings awareness to gardening, which connects to nutrition, and helping children make better choices with their food. One thing we do with our harvests is donate them to Armijo families in need, so it’s nice that the students see the garden going full circle. We are planting, nurturing, growing, harvesting and sharing our harvest with families who need it. This is very empowering and the students can literally see that the work in the garden is helping someone. The garden is a safe and positive space, and we need more of them at our schools and in our homes.

How do you envision a sustainable Solano County in the future?

I just see it growing and growing. Maybe bring back gardening/nutrition electives back to the schools. Having students learn how to prepare foods, that is always fun! Having students think about careers in the field of agriculture, the environment, sustainable gardens, nutrition, botany, etc.

Tell us something interesting that people may not know about you.

I like to knit scarves, especially during wintertime … they turn out pretty nice! I also like singing. I do a little karaoke here and there.

A special thank you to Sierra Reinertson for giving her time and talent to write these volunteer and champion profiles!

This Giving Tuesday, Support Sustainable Solano Through Give Local Solano

By Sustainable Solano

Sometimes the gifts we get at Sustainable Solano are the small moments that come out of the work we do. While our work is focused on effecting change within our communities to build resiliency and sustainable living, what happens on the human scale is much more personal:

  • A woman getting to know neighbors and new friends while planning a resilient neighborhood.
  • A man planting in a community garden recalling how his mother prepared certain vegetables during his childhood.
  • Students researching and connecting with the food they grow on campus to send home for families.
  • Farmers connecting in conversation to share practices and ideas.

During #GivingTuesday, Dec. 3, we invite you to become part of fostering that human connection in creating a world that works for everyone. Sustainable Solano is participating in this year’s Give Local Solano. The program gives you a chance to give to area nonprofits that are doing important work in the county. All donations go to the organizations selected, and 100% of the donation qualifies as a charitable gift. Here are more details on Give Local Solano.

While we have a Donate button at the top of our website for any time of year, Give Local Solano gives us a chance to highlight our programs with people who may not have heard of Sustainable Solano and the work we do. We hope those of you who know us, volunteer with us and have joined us for workshops will help spread the word — while every dollar will help bring more programs to the county, every new connection is someone who can help us grow and spread the important work we’re doing to create sustainable landscapes, shape resilient communities, provide education and support local food.

See Sustainable Solano’s profile and donate here on Dec. 3!

Solano Volunteer Portal Creating Real Local Change

Looking to help make an impact for a cause that matters to you in your community? The Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership (CVNL) has created an interactive Volunteer Portal where nonprofits and individuals can easily create a free online profile to match agency needs to volunteer interests.  Click here to create your profile and browse nonprofits in your city working to improve the community.

Volunteers play a vital role in the delivery of our mission and there are plenty of ways that you can get involved! Click here to see Sustainable Solano’s current volunteer opportunities.

Have questions about CVNL or need help creating your profile? Contact Tina at